Attractions, Great Smoky Mountains, Parks, photos, Z00

Mini Sabbatical

A lot of us are working from home which gives us the opportunity to take a mini sabbatical.

Now that your garage has been cleaned out, cars are all vacuumed and everything else that you have been putting off is taken care of, you may want to take a mini sabbatical to a relaxing and inspiring place.

Sevierville has it all.  There is history, beauty and fun all in one area.  Imagine having your coffee on the deck every morning while waiting for the sun to come up.  Sunrise

All our cabins have high speed internet for your “work from home” sabbatical.   Geppettos Restaurant is on Wears Valley Road and is one of our most favorite Italian Restaurants in Sevierville.  They will deliver to our cabin “Kiss the Clouds”.  Enjoy your lunch on the deck while overlooking those amazing smoky Mountain Views.  framed_view_1_1920x1080

My cousin came with us on one of our trips and it worked out perfectly.  She got off work at 4 PM and I had dinner ready for us.  Then, we would go out and explore the area.  One night we went to Cades Cove and saw a lot of bears.  VID_20200526_174050_exported_21009_1598034565155

My daughter was missing prom season this past year, so we brought her old prom dresses and dressed up and took some pictures.  IMG_20200424_154100

One night we went to an exotic petting zoo.  It is off of Dolly Parton Highway.  We wanted to do something that was off the beaten path.  We didn’t want to be around a lot of other people.  We were very pleasantly surprised with the place.  It was a really nice place to spend some time and enjoy the different animals.  My daughter held a baby goat.  We got to feed the animals.  We pet an Elk and he was very soft.  IMG_20200601_150955

I have blogged about things you can do in the area that are less crowded.

If you haven’t been out in a while and want to take a nice “social distancing” vacation, consider Great Smoky Vacations for your next getaway.

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Attractions, Pigeon Forge, Wheelchair accessible

Wheel Chair Access Attractions in Pigeon Forge

Most of Pigeon Forge is wheelchair accessible.  Most dinner shows and shopping places have elevators or are on one level.  Highlighted below are also some attractions that are accessible by wheelchair.

Titanic Museum

The exhibits and self-guided tour are wheelchair accessible, with wheelchairs available for use.

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WonderWorks Museum

Interactive exhibits of the unusual and unexplained.

Elevators give access to the upper level. Service animals are welcome, as well. For hearing-impaired guests, there is signage with instructions and explanations of exhibits.SeaJack #6 014

Those with visual impairments are able to participate at exhibits that rely on the sense of touch.

Dollywood

Theme park offering entertainment, attractions, rides and dining. Wheelchair and Electric Convenience Vehicles are available for rental while visiting. Most of the park is on level ground, with some gentle, rolling pathways for ease of accessibility. Featured Image -- 802Rides and attractions are marked with special entrances for wheelchairs. Rides that require transfer from a wheelchair are indicated by signs. Service animals are welcome, and assisted listening devices are available.

Great Smoky Mountain National Park

The park offers scenic drives through the mountains, programs and information at the visitors’ centers, and some accessible mountain trials. Cades Cove Loop offers an 11-mile scenic loop road. The Cades Cove Visitor Center has handicapped parking, accessible restrooms and drinking fountains, and a ramp into the one-story building. Cable Mill Historic Area at Cades Cove has two historic buildings that are accessible, but the rest are not. 010515_Gatlinburg'15(edits)_033The area is reached by walking over a gravel trail which might not be possible for some individuals. Sugarlands Visitor Center is completely accessible, with wheelchairs available for use. The center has ranger-led programs and a movie about the plants and animals of the Smokies that is close-captioned. The Sugarlands Valley Trail is a half-mile paved walking trail that is accessible. The All-Access Nature Trail at New Found Gap Road is designed for the disabled, as well as young children and senior citizens. Several picnic sites in the park, located at Cades Cove, Chimneys, Cosby and Metcalf Bottoms, have handicapped-accessible facilities.  The view from Clingman’s Dome parking area is just as impressive as the view from the tower.  Mingus mill is just a little further beyond Clingman’s Dome.  Oconaluftee Visitor enter is just a little further and has a little town set up out back.

http://www.yoursmokies.com/handicappedaccessible.html

Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail

The Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail is a pretty popular kid friendly Smoky Mountain hiking trail. This looped trail is 0.5 mile long, making it short and sweet. Your kids will enjoy being out in nature, and they’ll burn some energy walking along the trail. This trail is close to Gatlinburg and runs alongside a creek, where your family can explore and possibly see some wildlife. This trail is paved, making it wheelchair and stroller accessible.

Fun Time Trolley

These wheelchair-accessible trolleys travel throughout Pigeon Forge.PigeonForgeArea-14Trolley

The Island in Pigeon Forge

Diverse selection of activities – The Island is showcased by a 200-foot Observation Wheel and the Island Show Fountains, which are programmed to perform to light and music year-round. Our oasis in the Smokies is open 365 days a year with free parking and free admission. PigeonForgeArea-82TheIslandPaulaDeens The Island features flat, rolling sidewalks and easy access to every store, restaurant, and attraction. The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel is wheelchair accessible and rotates 200 feet over Pigeon Forge, giving you some tremendous views.

Great Smoky Mountains, Parks

The single most underrated way to step out of your comfort zone while on vacation

When it comes to travel, almost everyone likes the idea of stepping out of their comfort zones. The mere act of leaving our normal routines, friends, homes and entering new environments has a beautiful way of shaking up our perspectives on ourselves, our lives, and the world.

Many of the best, most transformative travel experiences are direct products of the unfamiliar and unexpected: doing things we wouldn’t normally do, meeting people we wouldn’t ordinarily meet, and learning new perspectives that make us better versions of ourselves.

However, for most travelers, the actual process of stepping out of our comfort zones can be uncomfortable, or daunting or downright scary — step too far and we risk remembering a vacation for all the wrong reasons. As a result, we tend to revert back to the safest, most predictable plans, taking solace in knowing exactly what we’ll get.

This is why I’m an advocate of single decisions that make the process of stepping a little bit outside your comfort zone on your next vacation easy, automatic, and even fun! From years working with the most innovative vacation rental hosts in the world on the Vacation Rental Marketing Blog, my favorite single decision lies in the kind of accommodations in which you stay: instead of booking a traditional hotel, choosing the right vacation rental property opens many doors and facilitates all kinds of meaningful experiences.

Embedding one’s self in a residential neighborhood away from groups of tourists means meeting local culture in an entirely new way. And in this environment, we’re more likely to encounter delightful surprises and explore more of the unknown. No matter where you’re heading for your next vacation, choosing the right vacation rental can be that single choice that makes all the difference.

Here are four ways in which choosing the right vacation rental can make your next trip almost by default more adventuresome, interesting, and memorable.

1. Automatic Local Friends

Since most vacation rental operators live in the area and love it, they make for the ideal destination ambassadors and therefore the perfect local: friends. The best vacation rental hosts are able to recommend their favorite haunts, introduce guests to the right guides or contacts, and even let visitors in on insider secrets. One of my favorite anti-comfort zone moves is to invite your vacation rental host out for lunch to their favorite restaurant.: Use this chance to pick their brains, to help you organize your itinerary, or merely to get a lay of the land. Very few hotel concierges are able to offer this level of personal attention due to the size of the business — a vacation rental host is that all-too-valuable connector you can’t do without.

2. The Excuse to Be Curious

Staying in a vacation rental as opposed to a traditional hotel means everything is less formulaic and that is the best way to digest local culture. Instead of relying on room service or overpriced hotel taxis, I like to encourage travelers to wander out and use the excuse of being a new neighbor to ask questions! Where’s a great place for a lazy afternoon lunch? What’s the best way to get downtown? What’s it like to live here? Preface any of these questions with the fact that you’re only playing neighbor for the week and you’re bound to get a warm reception and sense of place.

3. The Fun of Dining In

Eating out on vacation every day can get expensive, if not downright exhausting. A vacation rental’s kitchen is the ideal alternative and amenity that breaks down comfort zone barriers because it encourages local grocery shopping excursions and the improvisation of putting together a meal of your own. If you’re looking for inspiration, try to replicate a popular local dish or seasonal specialty… experiment with something you’ve never made before. If you’re feeling fancy, ask your host about a private chef. And if you’re feeling lazy, order delivery and enjoy lounging around the ultimate comfort zone — the living room.

4. The Permission to Get Lost

At home when we’re in our typical routines, getting lost is frowned upon: it makes us late for work, embarrassed before friends, and disappointed in ourselves. But when traveling, getting lost is a virtue — a plus that leads to some of the best vacation memories. By choosing a professional vacation rental instead of a traditional hotel, we remove the compass and maps of structured tourism and embrace the idea of not knowing exactly where we are or where we are going. This is not an endorsement to put anyone’s life in danger — it is permission to enjoy the journey and not just the destination. It is a good reminder to relish the beauty of travel at its core, which is the consent to relinquish a bit of control and find your own way.

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Amusement, Entertainment, Food, Pigeon Forge, Show

Dolly Parton’s Pirate Dinner Theater

Pirate battles, live animals, custom-designed costumes, and more.  Arrive 50 minutes before the show for the chance to explore Pirates Village, where your kids (and you too!) can dress up like pirates and mermaids and enjoy pirate-themed beverages and snacks.  adjacent to The Island in Pigeon Forge and includes a 30,000 square-foot arena that seats nearly 700 guests. During the show, guests will get to see the Crimson and Sapphire pirates battle on deck, in the water, and in the sky above their full-sized pirate ships in a 15-foot-deep indoor lagoon.  Enjoy a four-course pirate feast at the show! The menu will include the Walk the Plank Peach Turnover, creamy vegetable soup and fried chicken.

Pirate

https://piratesvoyage.com/pigeon-forge/

Gatlinburg, Shopping

The Best Places to Go Shopping in Gatlinburg

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From Smoky Mountain apparel to beautiful, handmade pieces, the Gatlinburg shopping scene has so many things for you to discover. Whether you’re looking for the perfect souvenir or a gift for a loved one, you’re sure to find just what you set out for here. To help you plan for your trip, here are 5 of the best places to go shopping in Gatlinburg.

The Village Shoppes in Gatlinburg are a must-visit when in the Smokies, the architectural components and historic elements that make up the buildings are equally as intriguing. “We tried to build an attractive mall that was different from anything else in the world,” says Village co-founder and former co-owner Jim Gerding, “and I feel like we accomplished that.”

Jim Gerding (left) and Dave Dych had a vision for The Village Shopping Center, and they traveled the world to gather ideas and relics to bring that vision to life. Image courtesy of the Gerding family.

Gerding and his business partner Dave Dych, who passed away in 2003, traveled far and wide in pursuit of discarded or for-sale treasures that could enjoy new life in their one-of-a-kind complex, all part of their vision to create a shopping experience like none other in the region. It’s these fascinating elements that, still today, make the outdoor mall not only a retail destination, but also an architectural treasure worthy of exploring.

“We spent considerable amount of time gathering up old glass windows and doors and transoms and slate and hand-carved mantles and hand-carved stairways,” shares Gerding. “Not any one of them is a standout, but The Village is a blending of these different items.”

gatlinburg shopping

Gatlinburg shopping

The brick used to create this building, which currently houses Master’s Editions, came from both the Witt McMahan home and an old L&N Hotel in Knoxville and date back as far as the late 1700s. The stained glass window, which is hand-made and believed to come from Italy circa late-1800s, was reclaimed from Second Presbyterian Church in Knoxville.

Gatlinburg shopping

The Hayloft‘s slate roof came from the Ross mansion, owned by early Knoxville industrialist W.C. Ross. In fact, many of The Village features came from the Ross mansion, including a stairway and various light fixtures.

The Spice & Tea Exchange

The Spice & Tea Exchange is located in The Village Shoppes in Gatlinburg. You’ll absolutely love the Old World spice trading atmosphere when you walk through the door. This specialty store offers more than 140 spices, over 80 exclusive hand-mixed blends, 16 naturally flavored sugars, an array of salts from around the world, and more than 30 exotic teas. Their main focus is to provide high-quality products and accessories to chefs, home cooks, and tea lovers. You’ll be so excited to take these products home and try them out when you’re cooking!

Gatlinburg shopping

The doorway, transom and side panels that make up the entry to The Spice & Tea Exchange were originally used in a Johnson City home that was built in 1911. Gerding and Dych purchased them in 1971 and gave them new purpose at The Village. They are stunning!

The doorway, side panels, transom and arched window of The Spice & Tea Exchange were originally part of the home belonging to Robert Hunter of Johnson City, which was built in 1911. Gerding and Dych purchased these pieces in 1971 to incorporate them into The Village.

Pepper Palace

Another great stop in The Village Shops in Gatlinburg is the Pepper Palace! This store encourages a fun and fiery environment that you’ll immediately notice when you step through the front door. Inside, you can browse through all of their famous hot sauces, salsas, seasonings, and rubs. Their small batch, handcrafted, natural, and award-winning products are just what you need to add a little charisma to your everyday meals that might be starting to taste a little bland.

The windows in The Honey Pot at the Village Shops are believed to have come from Italy; Gerding acquired them from Second Presbyterian Church in Knoxville. The antique mirror in the Life is Good shop is also believed to have originated in Italy, though it was acquired for The Village Shopping Center at auction in 1977. And the newel post in The Sock Shop came from a four-story mansion in Montreal, a structure that was built in 1880. This component has enjoyed new life at The Village since Gerding purchased it in 1975.  Stop in to Cartoons & Toys, grab a souvenir and check out the staircase, which was originally found in a senator’s Knoxville home.

Novus Candela Bath & Crafts

Who doesn’t love a beautiful candle to add a warm glow to their home? The scented soy candles at Novus Candela Bath & Crafts are absolutely wonderful and are sure to make any room you put them in seem cozier. In addition to their lovely, handmade candles, you can also find goat’s milk soaps and essential oils there. They also carry a large selection of gorgeous handmade quilts, jewelry, paintings, and scenic pictures.

The Celtic Shop

If you’re planning on spending the afternoon on the Gatlinburg Parkway, you should definitely make a stop at The Celtic Shop! It features a wide selection of genuine Celtic pieces that were hand selected by the staff during their previous visits to Ireland and Scotland. From apparel and jewelry to posters and other fun knick-knacks, there are so many items for you to look at that will remind you of your trip to the Smokies and your heritage!

Brandywine Pottery

The pieces from Brandywine Pottery make both thoughtful gifts and great additions to any room in your house! The influential artist that this shop is named after, Brandy Ward, creates functional pottery inspired by the forests of the Smoky Mountains. Each of his pieces is hand thrown and glazed with an airbrush. His technique truly makes the pottery sold in this store one-of-a-kind.
There’s always something new and unique to discover when you shop here! Come see all of these fantastic shops for yourself, and you’ll most likely walk away with some amazing new treasures! Be sure to also check out all the other places to go shopping in Gatlinburg for a truly unforgettable trip.